Archives are a frequently untapped resource for novelists. Accounts of daily life, the lives of individuals, details of specific eras, and other minutiae found in the documents and memorabilia housed in archives can be used to fill out the essential scenes and events of the stories. Such facts and personal details help fiction writers make their stories real to readers and keep misconceptions and factual errors out. This study looks at the limited literature on the subject of authors in archives and presents examples of the types of information housed in particular archives to illustrate the kinds of details that could be useful in writing fiction. This study also demonstrates to archivists ways in which they can help authors to become aware of the value of archives in their research and to help them find the documents that would be most useful, based in part on this author’s experience as a novelist, a member of several writers’ groups, and panelist at numerous genre conventions attended by writers, editors, publishers, agents, and fans.
Cary G. Osborne graduated from the University of Oklahoma School of Library & Information Studies with an MLIS. She now serves as the Political Papers Archivist at New Mexico State University. She also writes fiction, having had several novels and short stories published.
Osborne, Cary G.
"Information-Seeking Behavior of Novelists in Archives,"
Journal of Western Archives:
1, Article 4.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/westernarchives/vol1/iss1/4